A walk in the park

I was walking my very energetic labradoodle in the park one day. I was in my early 30s and heavily pregnant for the first time. I sat down on a bench in the park feeling rather low and unwell. I was afraid about becoming a parent for the first time. Abandoned by my own mother, I felt very unprepared and lacking somehow.

Because of the way I was feeling I had managed to successfully isolate myself, which of course made everything worse, but at least I thought I don’t have to try and share how I’m feeling with anyone else as the thought of doing so seemed just as overwhelming. As I was sitting there (I imagine looking rather deflated) an older lady approached with her own dog. She sat herself down beside me and began talking: about her dog, my dog, her dead husband, being lonely at home, her vertigo condition and then about my pregnancy… Before she left me that day she said ‘thank you so much, I was having a bad day today and you have made me feel so much better’. I realised when she said it that I did too. A couple of years later I bumped into her in the local shop, she didn’t remember me but I remembered her and told her that she had once been very kind to me and thanked her.

Artist’s response

This story helps me explore our vulnerability when we offer kindness to strangers. I’ve tried to imagine how the older woman might have felt just before she spoke to the younger woman. Did the weight of her own needs make her hesitate? Did she worry she’d be perceived as inappropriate or interfering? Was she scared she’d be rejected? How did she find the courage to share her vulnerability and risk connection? I’m left wondering if we always acknowledge how hard it is to do that.
Lucy Edwards is a ceramicist. She makes small clay figures that explore our relationship with ourselves. Giving form to fear, anger and despair, some figures encourage us to be gentle with ourselves when we’re experiencing difficulty. Other figures celebrate a sense of wellbeing and express feelings of connection, acceptance and joy.

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